17.032 nesting and linear narratives

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Fri May 23 2003 - 05:25:20 EDT

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                    Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 32.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                         Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

             Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 08:06:40 +0100
             From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             Subject: linear narratives & nesting

    [On behalf of Ryan Deschamps --WM]

    >Dr. Willard:
    >Regarding your (perhaps mostly rhetorical) statement "Are there any
    >[linear narratives] that are *strictly* linear, or is this a rather
    >unproductive notion of the hypertext evangelists?" I would like to
    >emphatically argue that "it depends" :) (actually, I mostly want to
    >explore your statement further).
    >To concur with your above statement, I think it would be foolish to argue
    >in any essentialist fashion that a "strictly" linear narrative exists.
    >But I do question the extent to which anyone would really argue that
    >point. I imagine the term (like most abstract terms in the english
    >language) to refer loosely to the extent to which something is linear or
    >nested -- but that definition would relate more to how I perceive its
    >usage rather than any denotation I have seen.
    >Any first-person narrative, for example, automatically includes two
    >levels: 1) the person's conversation with the "audience" (mystically a
    >cross between the "real life" reader and an "imagined" reader) and 2) the
    >story that is being related to the audience (that, in turn, may nest other
    >narratives as well). Further, you could call my little essay here
    >"nested" because -- while you read this message in the present -- I have
    >put plenty of my past experience/readings etc. along with the
    >message. Yet I still would argue that -- while technically nested -- most
    >professors would not bother to include such a narrative as _Henderson the
    >Rain King_ or any of my essays (quality of writing aside) in a course
    >about framed narratives.
    >However, one way I have thought of seeing the "nested" or "framed"
    >narratives "genre" is by the emphasis that gets placed on the act of
    >communication from one individual to another. Framed narratives -- as I
    >have seen them -- tend to put the act of communication/information
    >retrieval/historiography at the forefront, which makes them quite
    >interesting to a society in a so-called information age. I would call
    >Chaucer's tactic of blaming "characters" for all the offensive things that
    >happen in _Canterbury Tales_ would be another important tactic ("indirect
    >criticism") of the framed narrative as well.
    >While I'm at it, though -- I think we can add Plato's _Symposium_ to the
    >list of more than three nests: a guy tells another guy that socrates told
    >a story that was told to him by Diotima(?) about love. Considering
    >Alcibiades intrusion and general inability to comprehend what Socrates is
    >all about, I would say that communication from one person to another (and
    >perhaps its relationship to love)is an important theme in the book.
    >And how does this relate to electronic communication: tune in next week
    >true believers . . . :)?
    >Ryan. . .
    >Ryan Deschamps
    >MLIS/MPA Candidate -- Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University

    Dr Willard McCarty | Senior Lecturer | Centre for Computing in the
    Humanities | King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS || +44 (0)20
    7848-2784 fax: -2980 || willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk

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